1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Metacentric height

  1. Jun 20, 2012 #1

    i am on to understand when ships are in a stable position. now i found that this is directly linked to a quantity called the metacentric height?

    there are two major forces, the gravitational and the buoyant force. and in classical mechanics when i wanted to find out the torque that results from two forces i looked at the distance between them and when they where parallel and equal in magnitude torque was given by D= r x F

    for which reason do i look at this metacentric height, it does not seem plausible to me at all, can somebody say a few words about why you look at this distance and not the direct distance between the two forces?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 20, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    The trouble with the forces in flotation is that they shift around. Stability is about response to small changes. If a boat rolls in the water, it's obvious where its centre of mass moves to, but it can be less obvious how the centre of buoyancy moves.
    Consider some simple case:
    - hemispherical hull
    The profile of the hull in the water does not change, so the centre of buoyancy remains below the centre of curvature. This makes it stable; if the hull has tilted to the right then the mass centre is now left of a vertical through the centre of curvature.
    - tall pole, vertical
    This is obviously unstable. When exactly vertical there is no torque, but the slightest perturbation will lead to a torque tending to accelerate the perturbation.

    A critical consideration is the cross-section of the hull at the water level. Metacentric height encapsulates this.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook